Home from Home

Let’s go far away from home,
Ride on a rocket
Burn down the boulevard, burning it up.
Let’s go far away from home,
Ride on a rocket
Burn down the boulevard, burning it up.

Will I Am – Far Away From Home


I’m guessing (!) one of the problems with playing away from home is that eventually you’ll get caught out…

The problem with Cov is that they got caught out on their first assignation back in Week 2 and it hasn’t got a whole lot better since.


In yesterday’s Birmingham Post, Paul Smith’s interview with Moseley’s Chris Brightwell is both interesting and informative, illustrating as it does one of the most pressing problems facing many National 1 sides at the moment.

Especially Coventry.

Having talked a little about Moseley’s present situation, Brightwell goes on to say:

It’s an interesting league…in that it is very clear from the table how much stronger everyone appears to be at home

Almost every week it seems there is a 60 point game or two, then the same teams will lose the following week when they go away.

And whilst that may also be the case with many other sides, it seems particularly true of Coventry.

Cov have won all but one of their home games and in a National 1 league based just on our home record, we would be in a very laudable 2nd place, behind Hartpury College.

Contrast that with our away record of just one win in five outings and, in a similar league based just on our away record, we would lie just one place above the relegation zone in 13th position.

Points difference:

Home 158 v – 62 Away

Points won per match:

Home 4.13 v 1.0 Away

Points scored per match:

Home 43 v 16 Away

The two extremes. And only one outcome…mid-table melancholies.

National One 16/17 Home league table

Pos Club P W D L PF PA PD 4T L<7 Points P/M
2 Coventry


7 6 1 299 141 158 4 1 29 4.14
13 Coventry


5 1 4 81 143 -62 1 5 1

It’s a strange season to say the least and had we been able to turn just two of those away defeats into wins, well we could have been third in the league, just two points behind Moseley and with a home game against them to come in a few weeks time.

It’s a difficult one to explain away for sure. And I guess if the coaches knew the reasons as to why this is the case, then they would have acted upon them by now. The fact that it’s something common to most sides in the league makes it all the more perplexing, and probably all the harder to prevent.

At home we are producing some really strong performances built on forward domination, especially in the set pieces, together with a willingness to use quick ball to put pressure on opposition defences and to get the ball out wide wherever possible.

Away from home, we’ve tended to lack discipline and on occasions to take the wrong options and whilst we have remained dominant in the set pieces, elsewhere we have often been some way off the pace, with our tackling poor, especially on the oppositions’ first or second phase of play. We haven’t always killed the ball at source and once it has gone past phases three or four, the spaces appear and we tend to find ourselves too stretched to defend effectively, as was the case against Blackheath and Esher.

In the Telegraph article, Chris Brightwell goes on to say:

It’s an interesting league…in that it is very clear from the table how much stronger everyone appears to be at home…

It’s really hard to work out why it’s happening, but the main thing I’ve noticed is how wayward some of the defending is compared to the Championship..

And perhaps herein lies the answer as to why teams are struggling so much away from home. With home teams seeming to be far more intent on playing an attacking game, unless the opposition are set up to defend, and defend in numbers for long periods of the game, then they are going to come unstuck. And as Brightwell points out, watching games where the home team is scoring a shed load of points might be exciting for the supporters, but it’s frustrating for the coaches who have relatively little influence on the game once it has started.

Is it a coincidence that the only away game that we’ve won, against Hull Ionians, included Owain James and Tom Howe, both of whom seem to have a natural instinct when it comes to being in the right place at the right time when it comes to defence? When they have played, teams haven’t been able to break us down in quite the same way.

Whilst we’ve clearly benefitted from the attacking options they both offer, especially Owain who continues to top the try scoring list even though he’s only played in a third of the games, together with Jack Willis they have added far more resilience in defence. That’s why I hope that we see Willis and James retained for this Saturday’s game against Rosslyn Park, although with Rob Knox seeming to fit in well out wide over the last couple of games, I’d be tempted to keep him on the wing, given that he’s very much a longer term solution than Tom Howe.

Hopefully by now, the first of the three guest sessions that Craig Newby, the former All Black and Leicester Tigers captain, has delivered focusing on defence, will also have had an impact and we shall see Coventry looking stronger not just with the ball but, and equally as important, without it as well.

We’ve played six games since Esher and eight since Blackheath, the two games in which we really failed to produce anything like the form of which we are capable. A third trip to London surely won’t end up with another lack lustre performance? Rosslyn Park are going to be very difficult opposition, especially with their recent run of results and I’m certainly not expecting a win, hoping for one yes, optimistic of one even, but not expecting of one, not on our current away form.

But I do expect to see Coventry compete better than they did in either of those two games down in London. If you could take away the first 20 minutes of the Moseley game and the last 15 of the one against Ampthill , then that would be something akin to what I’m looking for. We know from last week’s win against Cambridge that we have a near 80 minute performance in our tank, what isn’t so clear is whether we can reproduce it against opposition of the quality of Rosslyn Park.

Since the Esher game, we’ve looked a lot more solid and having won five out of the last six,  so I’m fairly confident we won’t see anything anywhere near as disappointing as we did back then, but the fact remains that Cov don’t travel well and whilst I’m going for the win in the Prediction League, I’m not going for the 60 pointer this week!

There’s going to be a fair few Cov supporters travelling down to The Rock on Saturday and I’m sure they’ll make their presence heard.

Home from home.

Perhaps that’s the answer? Or at least making the players feel it’s more like a home fixture for them.

It certainly felt like that at Hull

Support has been picking up at home and the crowd for the Cambridge game was a season’s best so far, although with Moseley looming on the horizon, that’s sure to be broken before Christmas.

That said, I’m not so sure attendances will increase greatly hereon in until Coventry start winning away from home as well. With six from seven at the Butts, I think we’ll plateau a little now (excluding the Mose game) until we begin to make a move up the table, and that is only likely to happen if we win some games on our travels, starting with Rosslyn Park.

Chris Brightwell talks about the need to win ugly sometimes and that’s something that Coventry haven’t been able to do on three separate occasions this season, against Moseley, Hartpury and Ampthill. Against Moseley and Hartpury we lost by less than a converted try and to Ampthill by just 14 points…and that’s the difference between a decent start and what would have been an exceptional one.

Small margins really…

…small margins.

We’ve shown we can win away from home, albeit against a team lying third from bottom equal on points with the other teams in the relegation zone. If we are to move up to the next level in our push for a top three spot, we have got to start producing match winning performances away from home…

It’s time for Cov to deliver on their travels.

And this week they will.






Author: Tim

6 thoughts on “Home from Home

  1. Interesting to note that Eoghan Grace said the same about the Championship and premiership lat night as I’ve said above..

  2. National 1 experience may not be prevalent, but Boris has loads of Premiership experience, Pritch is former Bedford (Championship) as is Burkey, Nick Walshe… the list goes on. Yes, I realise they have to win this league first, but if they already have the mindset for the next level through the influence of coaches who know what they’re doing at that next level, they won’t be the yoyo for the next two years or so.

  3. Hi Warren…love the beer and nuts idiom! Not heard that before…

    And yes, what you say makes sense, although I think a fair few of the more experienced players have plenty of National 1 experience. Good coaches should be able to coach any scenario – or so you’d think?

    It is, as you say, all ifs and buts…


  4. With the coaches at Cov being relatively inexperienced both generally and at NL1 level (although I’m in no doubt that they are very motivated and capable), I wonder if RW had brought in a coaching presence who had more NL1 experience. They may have had a better handle on how the game is played in this league (as personified by the Chris Brightwell comments and Sam Skennel’s reply), and as such would some of the tighter losing results have swung in our favour?

    I guess if if’s and but’s were beer and nuts, we’d have ourselves a party.

  5. Hi Sam…thanks for leaving a comment! I have to admit I haven’t watched much rugby outside of the particular league Cov has been playing in at the time, but I’ve heard others say something similar. I do love the rugby that’s played in Nat 1, warts and all. You never quite know what to expect and in some respects the mistakes and failings of teams add to the spectacle as a supporter, although it must frustrate the life out of the coaches at times. Some of the best games, the Plymouth and Hartpury games this season, for instance, are ones where they are quite attritional at times, bit also with some real running rugby thrown into the mix, with the odd mistake in 10 deciding the game. Promotion? Yes, of course it’s got to be the club’s aim, but I can’t help but think I wouldn’t enjoy the rugby quite as much…

    Thanks Sam for coming over. Totally agree with your sentiments…


  6. One of the the things I like about this league is the fact that above it, the rugby gets more and more cynical, turning attacking flowing rugby, albeit strewn with errors in defence, into increasingly cynical rugby where, at Championship level, it becomes more about stopping the opposition from scoring and in the Premiership it’s about killing any chance the opposition have to score.

    Yes, of course I want to see Coventry scoring more points then whoever we’re playing, but does that mean I want to see every Cov attack score, or every opposition attack stifled? That would make for very boring spectator rugby.

    So yes, our players are either on their way up or on their way down the levels of rugby, but so what? I like the spectacle and the atmosphere in the crowd and amongst the clubs at this level. It’s rugby. Proper rugby, the way it’s always been at Coventry but isn’t necessarily still so at the leagues above.

Any thoughts:

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